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    Medvedev warns Japan's PM over MPs' vote on Kuril Islands - aide

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    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso on Thursday that parliament's decision on Kuril Islands did not foster an atmosphere of trust, a presidential aide said.

    L'AQUILA (Italy), July 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso on Thursday that parliament's decision on Kuril Islands did not foster an atmosphere of trust, a presidential aide said.

    The Japanese parliament recognized the four southern islands of the Kuril chain as "historical" Japanese territory on July 3. Russia's upper house of parliament retaliated on Tuesday by asking the president to consider ending the visa-free system between Japan and the islands, which has been in force since 1992.

    "The Russian president pointed out that such acts do not create the necessary atmosphere for well-intentioned and sincere dialogue," Sergei Prikhodko said, adding that Medvedev had however expressed his readiness to continue discussions.

    Prikhodko also said that it was impossible to set an exact timeframe for the resolution of the issue as any agreement must equally satisfy both nations.

    Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said earlier on Thursday that Japan's unsubstantiated territorial claims to Russia could complicate regional contacts.

    He said the Japanese move produced a sharply negative reaction in Russian society and called Japan's territorial claims "inadmissible, unacceptable and out of line with the search for mutually acceptable solutions."

    Japanese tourists frequently visit the islands, where many of their ancestors were buried long ago.

    Prikhodko said, however, that Moscow saw no reason to scrap the visa-free travel arrangements.

    "The visa-free system is a demonstration of our openness, a mechanism of building trust... and an instrument of humanitarian exchanges," he said.

    The lengthy dispute over the islands has so far prevented Russia and Japan from signing a formal WWII peace treaty. The islands were annexed by the Soviet Union at the end of the war.

     

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